What does a Transcriptionist do?

What does a Transcriptionist do?

A transcriptionist is also known as a transcriber. It seems that the term ‘transcriptionist’ is used more in the USA and Canada, and the term ‘transcriber’ is more appropriate for Europe and Australia.

So a transcriber and a transcriptionist are exactly the same thing. The job of a transcriptionist is to listen to an audio recording and transcribe it into text in a document, usually a digital document rather than a handwritten one. However transcription can also refer to the physical notation of music or sounds from an animal or from another source.

However the term transcriptionist or transcriber is usually used to refer to a worker whose job it is to listen to a recording of spoken word and transcribe it into written word.

The job of a transcriber very often is done remotely, because there is usually very little reason to go to a place of work to do transcription. Most recordings these days are digital, which means they can be transferred to a remote computer to be transcribed and then returned back to the person requiring the transcription by email or file transfer. The equipment required by a transcriptionist is usually a PC or laptop, with a good quality keyboard and very often a foot pedal.

A transcription foot pedal is used to control the audio recording and pause it as the transcriptionist is completing the work. It is possible to do transcription without a foot pedal, but the problem is that it slows the transcriber down considerably because they have to use either a mouse or a button on the keyboard to stop and start the recording, whereas if they use the foot pedal it can be done so much more quickly.

Very often payment for transcription is done piecemeal, which means that transcriptionists get paid according to the speed they type. If a transcriptionist does not type particularly quickly then it is highly likely that the work will not be very well remunerated for them. There are very few opportunities for slow typists to do this work and most transcription companies require a minimum of 70 words per minute typing speed, if not higher. This is in the interest of the transcriptionist as well as the transcription company because by the nature of the way the work is paid, if a transcriptionist is a slow typer then the income they will get from the work will be considerably lower.

The role of a transcriptionist can be quite lonely at times because they are usually located on their own working from home. Working as a transcriptionist will mean that the transcriber will not see that many people during the day, and the work does require intense periods of concentration sat at a computer or laptop. The work cannot be done in conjunction with, for example, listening to the radio or speaking to other people or taking telephone calls. It has to be done in total isolation in order to be able to concentrate on the spoken word of the recording.

To become a transcriptionist you probably need to spend about £500 or $650 on the equipment needed. The software that most transcriptionists use these days is available at very low cost and the recommended software that universitytranscriptions.co.uk recommend is Express Scribe Pro, a piece of software developed by an Australian company NCH. This is very often all a transcriber needs to set themselves up (as well as a foot pedal). The preferred foot pedal for University Transcriptions is the Infinity foot pedal, which plugs directly into most laptops and PCs and is compatible with Express Scribe Pro.

There will be periods of time when there is no work at all for transcriptionists, as the work does tend to be very sporadic and seasonal. For example in December most years work will drop off but in January it will be very busy. There are very often turnarounds for work that require intense periods completing projects followed by times of very little work. Some people will struggle with this way of working because it is so different to the norm, but it can be very rewarding if you are the sort of person who is able to concentrate on work for a short period of time and complete projects to exact time frames.

For details of work for transcriptionists, please visit www.universitytranscriptions.co.uk.